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EARLY START

Deadly Shooting On Las Vegas Strip. Aired 4-04:30a ET

Aired October 2, 2017 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


This is CNN Breaking News.

[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning. Welcome to "Early Start." I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I am Dave Briggs. Welcome to all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We begin with this breaking news. A deadly terrifying shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Here is what we know at this hour. A gunman opening fire at the route 91 country music festival in Las Vegas as performer Jason Aldean was singing. Hospital officials tell CNN at least two are dead with up to two dozen injured, many of them critically. Police say one suspect is dead. They do not believe there are any additional shooters contrary to what you may have read on social media.

ROMANS: Las Vegas strip essentially in lockdown right now. Videos of the shooting are beginning to emerge. We want to warn you some of the sights and sounds you're about to hear are chilling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Get down. Get down. Stay down.

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down. Down. Down, down.

(GUNSHOTS)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. So what happened there, Jason Aldean concert, late in in concert, about 10:30, local time there in Las Vegas, automatic weapon begins firing into the crowd from what eyewitnesses say from an elevated position. Christine about 45 seconds go by, presumably for the shooter to reload and begin shooting again.

ROMANS: Three bursts of gun fire. So many rounds fire, you can't count them frankly there. See those folks who begin watching the concert, and then running for their lives. Let's go live to Las Vegas. Let us bring in Jean Casarez for the very latest and Jean, you've been talking to eyewitnesses, what are they saying, happened then and what is happening now?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN ANCHOR: I think what they're saying was happening at the time was just mass hysteria. I have spoken to people that were eyewitnesses. We are on the Las Vegas strip, we are about a mile away from where it all happened at the country music festival across the street from the Mandalay bay. While we've been standing here, we have been seeing ambulances going into and out of the scene. I was able to see one ambulance inside the window, they were actively treating someone as they are speeding away. New, here in Las Vegas there is trauma one center University Medical Center and there is also a level two trauma center here in Las Vegas. We understand they are treating the wounded right now at this point. But the country music concert had thousands of people. It was an outdoor concert.

I just spoke with people a minute ago, that said all of a sudden -- you heard those shots. As they were being recorded by concert goers. People just began to drop. They knew it was a domino effect. They needed to protect themselves, save themselves and they began to drop. They said there was a pause in the shooting as if someone was reloading a magazine and then the shots began again in rapid succession. So, as we are standing here, there are also buses. I want to turn you around here. I just want you to see people are already in one of these buses. They're going to transport people to the Thomas Mac Center, which is on the University of Nevada campus here in Las Vegas.

It is a large venue, because there are thousands of people on the Las Vegas strip. This is an active crime scene right now. They have to do something with those people. All those staying at the Mandalay bay, on the strip. Remember this happened before midnight here in Las Vegas. It's a Sunday night, very populous area. People all around the world coming to this concert.

[04:05:03] We've been talking with people from Canada. I saw people from London. Everyone is here in Las Vegas, because they love it here. This is the last thing that anyone expected would happen, but they're calling it mass hysteria when they just suddenly heard the shots. Some thought it was firecrackers, but soon realized it was much more than that. They began to flee the scene in rapid succession as that gunfire kept going. Christine?

ROMANS: I know that you've been in Vegas for maybe a couple days, and for those of us who had been to Vegas, there is always a security presence. Folks are saying before this concert there were car checks, police on street corners. But this is a quintessential soft target, all these people looking at someone on a stage not really thinking about their public safety.

CASAREZ: No. That is right. You're talking about a soft target. I mean you go in any hotel you want to at any time and anyway, virtually with anything. We have someone right here. Were you at the concert tonight? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't there, but we were staying at Mandalay

bay. So all the shots came off. We are getting off the taxi coming from dinner when all the shooting went off.

CASAREZ: So, were you getting off a taxi going back to your hotel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We heard three or four shots and what sounded like rapid machine gun fire in four or five bursts. We went in the hotel and then they start shutting down casinos and moving people out at that point in time. We tried to go into the rooms and they shut down the elevator and started escorting everybody out.

CASAREZ: So did the shots appear to be coming from the upper levels of the Mandalay bay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what it sounded like and that is what we're told. They shut down the elevators so you couldn't go up. Everything we've heard on twitter was 32nd floor. We didn't know where to go. Helicopters had been circling for us in a little while and continually moving the perimeter. -- I don't know how long this has been, like two hours? And I don't know how far they are away now but a mile and a half.

CASAREZ: When you first heard the shots, I know it's difficult to judge time but how long do you think the shots kept going off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have said it was less than two minutes from the first shot until we weren't hearing shots anymore. Two minutes of burst.

CASAREZ: Some people are saying there was a pause in the shooting and then it began again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That is what I heard as well. We were inside the casino so it's a little bit confusing. There are people running everywhere inside the casino.

CASAREZ: Did you see any wounded at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Well we saw, there's ambulance upon ambulance. We saw people going into the ambulance. But I wouldn't be able to confirm that I saw someone wounded. We met someone at the gas station, she is a nurse. She was at the concert and she had treated somebody got shot in the face, somebody got shot in the chest, and somebody was shot in the liver.

CASAREZ: What is your name and where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Todd Price. From New Brunswick, Canada.

CASAREZ: And you came here to Las Vegas to come to the country concert?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, actually we're at a conference. We had an executive briefing session all day today. We went out to dinner and then this all happened. CASAREZ: I'm sure this is not at all what you expected coming to Las

Vegas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not what I was looking for, no.

CASAREZ: All right as you can see, thousands of people have been through something they never thought they would get through or be a part of tonight. As you heard, there was an ambulance that just went by as we were talking to you right now. This is an active investigation. It appears as though in the last few minutes, they have continued to transport people from the scene to the trauma centers here in Las Vegas. The latest totals we have, two deceased, 26 wounded. 12 in critical condition. One suspect down. This investigation continues. I'll toss it back to you in the studio.

BRIGGS: Jean Casarez live for us there in Las Vegas. We will check back to you in the next two hours, so if you're just joining us, this is not the Mandalay bay concert venue but the Las Vegas village right in the middle of the strip, right between the most populated concert venues, hotels on that strip. We are awaiting a press conference from the Las Vegas police department. We're supposed to happen at 12:45 local. It's now 1:09. We will bring you that live as it happens. But the Las Vegas P.D. has reported one suspect down, that report that it is on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay bay hotel.

ROMANS: yes. Still looking for some confirmation on this early details, what we do know the strip is on lockdown essentially. We just heard from that gentleman who was here from Canada going to a conference. He tried to get back into the Mandalay bay after this event and dinner with friends and they shut down the elevators and are evacuating people away from there.

[04:10:07] The police, the Las Vegas police are telling people do not come to the south end of the strip. Please avoid heading to the south end of the strip. Las Vegas Boulevard is shut down, Tropicana, South bound of the road at this time. That was the latest update. There are ambulances still leaving the scene and heading to hospitals.

There were reports that (inaudible) International Airport has been shut down both into and out of the international airport, there in Vegas. We do have a report from an eyewitness to the shooting. Here's what she saw take place at this Jason Aldean concert at the Las Vegas Village, 10:30 las Vegas time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone sit hit the floor. So everyone was just like literally laying on top of each other trying to get out of the way and the shots just kept coming, and so we were going down, and when we got down, it was a man that was shot right there. They were trying to take him out. He was all bloody and unconscious and one of my friends was helping him out, and they got him out, and we ran, and everybody's hiding everywhere, hiding under the bleachers and stanchions and anywhere they could and everyone is telling us to run, run as fast as you can. My husband and I ran out toward our car and there were people hiding underneath my car for cover, and there was a gentleman that was shot, and he said can you help me, and so I put him in my car and I had like six people in my car, people without shoe, running just to get away, and --

BRIGGS: No you're so strong. Christine, we talked about before you came on camera how you tried to scramble and help people as best as you can. Could you talk about you had your vehicle, and you knew you got to get them help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a gal that was with this couple that the guy had been shot in the back or in the backside, and if thought he was going to be OK, but he was bleeding so he wasn't as serious to shove him into the ambulance. I took him in my car and she said can I drive, because she worked for metro and we got to the hospital so quick you wouldn't believe it. But anyway, she drove, and I went to Sunrise Hospital and my husband went in another car with another man that was unconscious to UMC, and I'm here right now because he is in there with my friend whose daughter is only 18 and she got shot.

BRIGGS: That is actually tragic. We appreciate your bravery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just trying to get in the hospital.

BRIGGS: That is a struggle so when you came here, you were trying to get in to the people who you knew, what were you told and why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was I told here? An officer said they're just taking precaution. So, I mean there are crazy people out there. They shot into a crowd of 30,000 people in a concert. It's insane.

BRIGGS: As were you reflecting on this terrible event, what sticks out right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be with my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. Just terrifying. So many witness accounts, so much like that. We can tell you that limited flight activity has resumed at the airport. We can tell you that, a big chunk of the strip is still shut down. There are of people being moved away from the location. Can't get back into their hotels. We know -- live pictures of the buses. We know there are two dead and we're trying to get more details. Police have a press conference in just a few moments. Returning more details on where this gunshots came from and are they sure it was one shooter.

BRIGGS: We do know this. It was the route 91 country music harvest festival. This is a concert that if anyone can get their hands on tickets, they would be there. It was Jason Aldean, the performer of the year, biggest name in country music. We're told some 30,000 people had packed into the outdoor venue. The Las Vegas village, the eyewitness reports are it was an automatic weapon and you can hear that on the video, we sowed you earlier from an elevated position. Again two dead, dozens wounded, Jean Casarez is live for us back in Las Vegas with an eyewitness to the shooting, Jean. CASAREZ: that is right. We've got Damon and Richard that come over

from California to come to this country western concert, first of all, you are at the concert, Jason Aldean is performing, what did you start to hear.

DAMOL LEACH, WITNESS: I heard a pop, sounded like a firework or something. Then a couple more pops different places in the stadium, and then it seemed like automatic gunfire. We heard bam, bam, bam bam, so we got down and took cover and tried to get out as best we could.

[04:15:00] CASAREZ: Richard, you were across the street from the Mandalay bay. Where did the shots appear to be coming from?

RICHARD FLICKINDER, WITNESS: You couldn't tell. They sounded like fireworks at first, but when you looked up I think they were coming from the top of the Mandalay bay in one of the floors.

CASAREZ: How could you tell?

FLICKINDER: There was an alarm going off in like a busted out window. So the security alarm is going off in one of those floors. That is the only thing we thought. That was the direction of the sound that is coming.

CASAREZ: So what was the reaction to people? Did they start screaming? Was there silence. What did you all do?

LEACH: Stunned. I'm like move, get down, get down and start moving because then we -- once the band started getting off the stage, we knew shots were coming in. So we started moving then.

CASAREZ: I was asked, how Jason Aldean knew, when to get off the stage. Do you know at all?

LEACH: No.

FLICKINDER: The shots coming that way. You could hear shots hitting multiple places. Maybe gunshots at the stage, but they got off pretty fast.

CASAREZ: How long would you say the gun fire kept going on?

LEACH: A long time because we got out of there and then the fire went off and then stop and go off, so it went a long time, took cover a couple of times. Five or ten minutes.

FLICKINDER: Take cover a couple times.

CASAREZ: There must have been security t this concert. Were they directing people to do anything at that point?

LEACH: I couldn't tell.

FLICKINDER: We were all panic trying to get away from the noise.

CASAREZ: How packed was it? Were people seated or was everybody standing while listening to the music?

LEACH: Seated.

FLICKINDER: And standing area.

LEACH: It was very packed. Full stadium.

CASAREZ: So it was a stadium like.

FLICKINDER: Sort of stadium like thing. Standing on the ground and then seats around the outside, but it was pretty busy.

CASAREZ: Did you see anyone shot?

FLICKINDER: Yes.

LEACH: Yeah. A couple people to -- in front of us towards the stage. I don't know if she was shot or she passed out, she went down. So I couldn't tell.

CASAREZ: What did you see?

FLICKINDER: I saw the same thing, and just a lot of people just coming towards us. We were leaning against the fence on the side, and then just a bunch of people. At that point I just tried to get out.

CASAREZ: How do you get out of the area?

FLICKINDER: Through the fence area. The fence got knocked down and everybody went through that way.

CASAREZ: Did anyone get hurt going out? Did it become a stampede?

LEACH: It was kind of stampede.

CASAREZ: Where did you go after that?

LEACH: We hid behind trash cans, cars, whatever we could hid, every time we heard shots, we got behind something.

CASAREZ: Everybody was hiding behind something?

FLICKINDER: There were still people fleeing.

CASAREZ: And shots were continuing to come at that point?

LEACH: Yes. Up until we got to the back area parking lot and it kind of stopped after a while, then we just continue to move as far away as we could.

CASAREZ: What was going on inside you when you realized what was happening?

FLICKINDER: Just get away, get to safety. Get away from the sound of the fire, of the direction. And then try not to panic and get out.

CASAREZ: It had to have been something you've never experienced before.

FLICKINDER: It was. It was crazy.

CASAREZ: All right. We're glad you're safe, and so sorry that for everyone, but to have to have that as part of your memory for your life. I want to hand it back to you, thank you. You too. We just saw another ambulance going into the scene. So when you think about Las Vegas, I'm sure you've all have been there, the hotels and nooks and crannies and the rooms and the floors, and just the areas that I'm sure they are still continuing to see if there are victims there in what is being called a mass casualty shooting. We know that victims have continued to be taken away from the scene. One ambulance that went by was able to see they were working on an individual inside that ambulance.

Buses now are continuing to arrive here at the scene taking people from the strip to the Thomas Mac Center, a very large venue at the University of Nevada. I want to tell you, you know Las Vegas is large, but yet the strip is one mile away, and the airport is very close. The McCarran International Airport is very close. As you're saying, flights were curtailed at that airport. But it appears as though -- Christine you may have the latest on that -- that the airport, come daylight may be up and operating.

ROMANS: Yes. They've resumed some limited service, Jean. Thank you so much for that. For telling us their story, we can tell you we're going to show you video here in a moment again of what happened. It's kind of troubling to watch. Can't even count all of the rounds that are fired. And Jason Aldean on the stage with his band. I can tell you that he has confirmed to CNN, his team has confirm that he and Band and his crew are unharmed. He was finishing up a set and kept singing for some 45 seconds as these bursts of gunfire continued and then ran off the stage. Here, you can watch for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(GUNSHOTS)

(SCREAMING)

(GUNSHOTS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:21:00] ROMANS: We're going to have James Galliano, Law enforcement analyst in just a minute. I'm really interested to have him listen to that gun fire and tell us what he thinks, what is happening there. In terms of fleeing or staying you can't tell where the gunshots are coming from, you can understand why people are hesitating. They don't know if they should hunker down or run, or where to run to.

BRIGGS: Mass hysteria, so those of you that have not been to Las Vegas, this venue, the Las Vegas Village where the Route 91 harvest festival is being held, right smack in the middle of the strip. You can see Mandalay bay right there, but it's also right next to MGM, next to Tropicana, next to Luxor, this concert we believe had some 30,000 people. It was the name in country music, Jason Aldean. So, needless to say, a sellout. It was outdoor, and the reports are the one suspect that was killed by Las Vegas police, on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay bay hotel. Automatic gun fire and this is the video we showed you, from an elevated position. Opened up about 10:30. Local time in the video from the eyewitness. There was about 45 seconds that went by, silence, panicked concert goers, and then the shooting began once again.

ROMANS: We are awaiting a press briefing from the police in Las Vegas. They had a very brief maybe an hour ago, very brief on-camera interview where they told reporters gathered there they confirmed two dead. They think there is one shooter. We know from witnesses trying to get home after dinner trying to get back into the hotel at Mandalay bay, they are locked out. You can see the Las Vegas strip always buzzing with activity is buzzing with a very different kind of activity tonight. Folks very afraid, and on lockdown here.

BRIGGS: People like Brian Heifner who was eyewitness to the shooting. Here is what he saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN HEIFNER, WITNESS: I didn't see much. Mostly I heard the shots. Just shots. I thought it was a semi-breaking what the air breaks but then I went downstairs and saw people running and looking for family, and I immediately went back to my room, locked the door, turned the lights off. Directly out my window you could see the Mandalay bay, and it overlook the concert venue. I am pretty much staying in my room with the doors locked and the lights off. I'm hearing there's more shots going on at the Bellagio right now. This is all up and down the strip at all the hotels. So I'm not sure what all hotels are being affected but I think a lot of them are having -- have shooters at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're talking about your feeling there are multiple sites with active shooter? We heard possible reference to that earlier but no confirmation. What do you think is the situation with that?

HEIFNER: Right now down the strip you can see the cop cars and police officers heading towards the Bellagio, they're all going from the Mandalay bay right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So that is just a taste of the chaotic early moments when there were rumors of other shooters. We can tell you right now that the Las Vegas police department does not believe there are any more shooters. That happens sometimes in the very early going of this breaking news situation, where there's a lot of noise and chaos, you can't really tell where a sound is coming from and rumors spread quickly. BRIGGS: All over social media reports there was a shooting at

Tropicana. We can confirm this one incident. The reason that happens, these hotels are all very tightly packed.

[04:25:00] For those of you that have not been in the Vegas strip, somewhat like Manhattan. Where they are all on top of one another. False reports. Again, one shooter, we do believe Las Vegas Police have reported one suspect has been killed, 32nd floor of the Mandalay bay hotel. Here's a map to give you a sense of just how crowded it is on that scene. Mandalay, MGM, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, all of this massive hotels right there. You got 30,000 people at a concert, needless to say, hysteria.

ROMANS: People gathered to have a good time all looking together at a band. Jason Aldean has issued a statement. Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don't know what to say but wanted to let everyone know me and my crew are safe. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involve tonight. It hurts my heart this should happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should had been a fun night, #heartbroken, #stopthehate.

We don't know anything about the person police say is dead in this attack. We don't know exactly where it came from. Although there are reports from elevated position and we know Mandalay bay is on lockdown at this hour. At least we know that after 45 seconds playing through that horrific gun fire, the band ran off the stage and they are all safe.

BRIGGS: And those of you that have been to Vegas now this is one of the most secured cities in the world because of robberies, attempted robberies, there are armed guards and police on every square foot of the strip. But this is apparently, if you read the reports it's from an elevated position inside a room. There were eyewitnesses reporting hearing glass shattering in the initial moments which makes you wonder if there was a window shot out. Windows do not open at the Mandalay bay hotel so you would have to shoot one out to get access to the outside.

ROMANS: We're waiting for the police for the briefing. They're a little overdue, but you can understand why. They have an active situation here. Law enforcement part is beginning even as treating the injured is happening. We know our latest update from authorities at least 26 people hospitalized with gunshot wounds at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. This is according to a hospital spokeswoman. At least two have died, because of their gunshot injuries. At least 12 people are in critical condition. Jean Casarez is on the ground saying ambulances are still going into the concert venue, and coming back from the concert venue. So presumably there are more people to be treated here.

BRIGGS: They are transporting victims to the Tomas Mac Center at UNLV. That is when you're seeing most of the ambulances there in Las Vegas take victims to again, those of you just joining us, it was the Jason Aldean concert towards the latter part of the concert. He was playing and clearly he got wind there had been a shooting, left the stage, mass hysteria, some took cover and some flee. ROMANS: Let's reset the scene, if you are just tuning in folks.

You're seeing the pictures on the Las Vegas strip. We know two people are dead, there are at least 26 wounded, 12 in critical condition. These are live pictures, I believe. Right here. And we're waiting for the police to begin a briefing. We don't want to go too far from this picture. Let's listen. Is this a mic check? Are they ready to start? We'll be able to get an update of where they think the shooter was. We want to get a confirmation, again, they believe this is just one shooter. So we will get confirmation again on what they know and whether this is still an active shooter situation or whether they have their suspect, let us know what's happening with the victims on site.

BRINKLEY: It's 1:30 local time. The shooting opened at 10:30. It's been about three hours. Two have been confirmed dead. At least 24 injured. Again, you can hear from the video we showed you earlier, this was an automatic weapon from what we hear and reported, an elevated position here is what took place at the route 91 harvest country music festival, 10:30 local time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(GUNSHOTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm here to talk to you about the tragic event that is taken place. Currently taking place at the Mandalay bay out on Las Vegas boulevard south. We experienced an active shooter situation approximately 10:08 p.m. tonight this evening. We had calls come into dispatch of multiple shots being fired from the direction of the Mandalay Bay towards the Route 91 concert that was taking place.